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On this episode, Kumars is joined by two luminaries of the left, Emmett Rensin and Alex Press, to talk about liberalism and the merits and pitfalls of psychoanalyzing politics with a focus on Emmett's latest essay over at the Los Angeles Review of Books, "The Blathering Superego at the End of History." Emmett who was on the show last year talking about grad student labor organizing, is a grad student and writes for a ton of major outlets including Newsweek, The LA Times and the LA Review of Books, where he is a contributing editor. We're also glad to have a first-time guest today in Alex Press, grad student in sociology who writes about labor and political economy and such things for The Nation and Jacobin, where she's about to start working as an editor.
Kumars, Alex, and Emmett unpack various aspects of Emmett's essay, which makes the case that over the last several decades liberals in the US have completed a transition from a view of politics as an ideological conflict between opposed factions to a view of politics as an educational struggle to get everyone the "facts." Using the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud as a metaphor, Emmett argues that liberalism in 2017 sees its job primarily as that of a censor, not just powerless but oblivious in the radically polarized context of post-Trump America. They discuss criticism of the piece from liberals as well as legitimate critiques from the left. Kumars takes Emmett's metaphor too literally and outs himself as a Freudian, while Alex does her best to keep everyone honest, elaborating on the point that focusing on individual psychology risks watering down leftist critiques that see oppression as systemic and material. Patreon subscribers also get another 20 minutes of show that you won't want to miss!
Follow Emmett on twitter at @EmmettRensin. Follow Alex on twitter at @alexnpress. Make sure to check out Alex's piece on liberal and right-wing appropriation of left language that we mentioned during the episode.